Monday, December 15, 2008

In Celebration of an Extraordinary Life

For those of you that were not able to be at the Memorial Service this weekend, I will share a little about it here. Although I am sure I won't do it justice, I thought being able to read about it might possibly help others with the grieving process. It was a beautiful service, and a farewell Jason would be proud of. The theme was "My Life as a Movie", and the family and close friends did a great job portraying the essence of who Jason was.

As we arrived a medley of Jason's favorite show tunes were being played. The service began with a Welcome, and then Jason's "Grand Entrance", as all of the Pall Bearers brought the casket in through the back, to the music of “This is the Moment” from Jekyll and Hyde the Musical, which was Jason's favorite audition song. Talk about a dramatic entrance!!

There was a Celebration of Faith, with a time of Worship, then a Eulogy read by pastor Steve Davidson. There was a lovely montage of video and pictures of Jason: “My life as a movie” and then the song “I can Only Imagine” was played. A lot of tears were shed all around. I will see if I can link the montage here in a few days.

Then a Celebration of Life. First Steve, Jason's father, thanked the family and close friends for their love and support. Steve told many stories about Jason, both growing up and recent. A few snippets: How he accepted Christ as a young child, and was baptized in the Kings River at age 11. How Steve and Debbie always had their bags packed because Jason would often call in the afternoon and say he had extra tickets to a show – that evening. How Jason enrolled his whole family and many friends into helping transform his condo into something extraordinary - when you walked in you would say WOW. How he changed it with the seasons and the holidays, and always had themed parties at his house. Jason's many travels around the world, from Africa, to Europe, to the Bahamas and many more. How Jason was so looking forward to having a sister, and not just any sister, but Jaci. Steve shared how even the most boring of meetings would be fun if Jason were a part of it- because there would often be a sub-meeting; where the goal of all those that were in the inner circle would be to bring up a certain subject the most times without anyone catching on. For example, if it were decided that the sub-meeting was going to be about ice cream, and you were able to add "I think going down that path might lead us on a Rocky Road", that got you a point. Steve ended with sharing the hope he had in seeing Jason again, because Jason had “purchased his ticket” for eternity, and Steve has the same ticket to the same place.

This was followed by a Time of Reflection as we listened to a recording of the Biola King's Men singing "And Can It Be", you could hear Jason's beautiful tenor voice.

Then Joshua, Jason's younger brother came up and shared a touching tribute to his brother. It tied back to the movie theme ala Star Wars, their favorite movie growing up. I am posting a video of it here (with their permission). It was just taken on my regular camera as I was holding it in my lap - so the quality is not that great, and when I laughed at the funny parts the camera was shakey too. (To watch it you will want to press pause on the music bar at the top right, and I suggest if you are like me to have some tissue handy).

Then Joe Maioriello, Jason's best friend shared about his "audition" for the role of Jason's best friend in the movie of Jason's life. From how the two of them met at Biola, how Jason cast him in that role, and then a funny story of a group of them at a cabin retreat; having a modern day Olympic competition, with events such as bocce ball, card games, and table tennis. This highlighted Jason's competitiveness, and his ability to bring the fun to any party, making any time you spent with him memorable.

Next, the words of Debbie Siebert were read on her behalf by Janet a close friend. It started with "My son exemplified what it meant to love one another.", and ended with "Well done, my son, well done!! Mom". Then Debbie walked up to the front with her sister and wordlessly laid a bouquet of roses on the casket. The applause started, and she motioned everyone to join in. The whole audience gave a Jason a standing ovation - for a job well done!!

There were closing words by Pastor Steve, and then the closing song: “For Good” from the musical Wicked. Another theme throughout the morning was how Jason had touched so many lives, and changed them - for good.

There was a reception following, and that also was just Jason's style. They had a whole "set" which was basically his living room set up for everyone to see. For those of us that hadn't been to his house, we got an even fuller picture of who he was. There were a number of theatrical masks, Disney Characters, a huge Star Wars figure stand up, books, plaques and awards for his many accomplishments, and many pictures of family and friends. There were beautiful fresh flowers on the tables, and the food was exquisite as well. It was all displayed beautifully, and there was a lot of attention put into the details. From the sandwiches on foccia, crossaints or rolls, meat balls, mini chimichangas and quesadillas with guacamole, meat and cheese platters, to the chocolate dipped strawberries, peanut butter cookies with Kisses on top, decadent brownies and rich lemon cake, it was all outstanding.

We then headed over to the graveside service at Belmont Memorial Park. The hearse led the procession of cars and when everyone had arrived, the Pall Bearers with Steve and Joshua leading brought the casket and rested it on top of the holder that covered the grave. Everyone gathered close and we sang “Amazing Grace”, “How Great Thou Art”, and “My Jesus I Love Thee”. Pastor Steve said a few words reminding us that this was just the body, that it was time to let him go, and that although we were all grieving over losing Jason, it was still a great day for Jason and there was a big celebration in heaven. Then all of the Pall Bearers laid their corsage flowers upon the casket, and hugged the family. Then everyone else who wanted to was invited to say a final goodbye and gave hugs to Steve, Debbie, Joshua and Jaci.

Following that Steve and Debbie were given a white dove to hold; a beautiful verse and poem were read, and then they were told to release the dove when they were ready. They waited a moment, and then opened their hands. The dove flew up into the sky, and a number of other white doves flew up after it. As we were all watching, the doves circled in the sky waiting for the last dove to join them, and then they flew home. At that moment the church bells began to chime, and then the casket was lowered.

There were many tears throughout the day, and many more to be shed. I am sure that Steve, Debbie, Joshua, and Jaci will appreciate your continued prayers and support in the days ahead.

For those of you that were there, if you have any other things that stood out to you from that day, or something that particularly touched you, please feel free to share it in the comments below.
Heather (Robinson) Favelo


  1. Thank you so much for posting all of this. I love reading about Jason and all that he did. Thank you for taking the time to do all of this.

  2. The Celebration of Jason's Life was as extraordinary as Jason. Everything written here describes it perfectly.

    As my husband and I drove home that Saturday afternoon, back to Orange County ourselves, I thought of the many times Jason called me on tht same drive. I was with him on those drives even if just over the phone.

    I cried myself to sleep in the car as my husband drove.

    I woke up about an hour later to the most amazing sunset. We drove in silence for a bit and kept our eyes on the sky. I knew this was the same sunset Jason was watching- just now from a different angle. The same sunset as the many he had driven through so many times as he made this same drive.
    And Jason was with me on the drive this time.

  3. I am one of Jasons neighbors. I am so sorry for the loss of such a talented and wonderful person. He was so young and nice. We will miss him dearly. Bill & Kaye

  4. I am one of the many parent volunteers who worked with Jason to bring assemblies to our Irvine elementary school through his Arts Teach program. In the spring I handed my role over to another parent but I had the opportunity to come to one last Assemblies Preview Day. While there I saw Jason and went up to him to thank him and say good bye. He immediately recalled my name and school (crazy considering how many people he must have worked with over the years....) and gave me a big hug. It made me feel wonderful and special. Thank you again, Jason, for everything.